Saturday, October 30, 2021

What to Do

It's always a conundrum to me. Does one celebrate Halloween on October 31st, All Saints Day on November 1st or both. The alternative is Day of the Dead. Actually it is the "Days" of the dead.  I guess this a question of the status of one's soul.

These days Halloween has become pedestrian. It is a day to dress up, no longer in a costume of evil or jest - a witch, a ghost, the devil, a skeleton, an angel, or a clown. Gone are the days of a simple white sheet with 2 eye holes cut out! These days costumes vary from the image of a former president to characters from the latest video game to some female fashion persona from TV. It is a day of candy, plastic pumpkins, and parading up and down the neighborhood. Gone are the days of harmless tricks - someone's buggy placed atop a barn or a scarecrow redressed as a witch. Bobbing for apples is no longer part of the day.

All Saints Day is now relegated to celebrations by the Episcopal and Catholic churches. It has not changed very much over the ages. However now there are over 10,000 recognized saints - that's a lot of canonizations. The most popular perhaps being St. Michael the Archangel, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Joseph, St. Valentine, St. Christopher, and  St. Patrick. Note several of those have their own celebrated days. Do the churches celebrate them in mass (no pun intended) or select a favorite few to honor?

One can celebrate either or both of these "holidays".

The alternative being the trifecta, the three Days of the Dead, celebrated October 31, November 1, and November 2. Dating back to the Middle Ages, and not coincidentally being the same time as Halloween and All Saints Day. The purpose these days is to remember family and friends who have died and to assist them on their spiritual journey. It is celebrated October 31, November 1, and November 2. These days coincide with the celebration of Allhallowtide - All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31st, All Saints Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day on November 2nd.

Each of the 3 days, represents a separate celebration. October 31st is in celebration and memory of angelitos (spirits of dead children), when children build the Ofrendas (home altars with a collection of objects placed on a ritual display).  On November 1st it is believed the spirits of the adults return. Families visit and decorate the graves of their loved ones on November 2nd. Candy and toys are placed on the graves of the children and gifts for the deceased adults include Tequila, trinkets, and their loved one's favorite candy. A new addition to the celebrations are parades where family members dress in costumes of skeletons and other symbols of the dead and walk through the streets of their towns and cities. No former politicians, gaming characters, or fashion icons here.

So I guess it comes down to modern character costumes and candy, rituals of the church, or alters, visits to cemeteries, and tequila. 

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